Liberty Man Earns National Accolade
From Soap Box Derby
by John Conway
AKRON, Ohio, August 2021—The 83rd Annual All-American Soap Box Derby is now history, and although the six racers who travelled to Akron, Ohio from Sullivan County for the event did not capture any championships this year, all of them returned home with great memories and the undeniable achievement of getting to the “big show.”
Three of the Sullivan County racers advanced past the grueling first round of competition.
And one returned home with a prestigious national award.
Twenty-year-old Morgan Van Keuren of Liberty was honored with the Derby’s 2021 President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award. The award, established in 2015, recognizes a youth under the age of 21 who has made a positive impact on the Soap Box Derby program by volunteering and mentoring on the local or national level.
Mr. Van Keuren, who finished third in the world in the Rally Masters Division in his previous trip to Akron in 2019, was competing in his final race, since he will be too old to compete next year. He accepted the award with his characteristic modesty, and promised to continue to work with younger racers going forward.
“I’ve gotten to meet tons of wonderful people from across the country and make friends and memories that will be with me for a lifetime,” Mr. Van Keuren said. “I’m very thankful for being honored in receiving the President’s Youth Volunteer Service Award, and this isn’t goodbye. I still have a lot of cars to build for the next generation of Barn Buddies (racing team). I’m happy to have had such a long and successful career in the sport that I truly love. “
In addition to Mr. Van Keuren, Sullivan County racers who qualified for the Akron championships this year included Brooke Nichols, Brooke Roth, Cora Freidenstine, Mason Smith, and Cassie Wolcott.